If I could kill myself right now, how would I do it?
I take a quick look around the school hallway. There’s nothing for me to use; I would have to try really hard to find something dangerous enough to kill me. Damn the board of education for actually going through their plan to protect the students from wanting to escape this shithole of a life.
For a high school senior with the name Niamh -- which apparently means ‘bright’ or ‘radiant’ -- my thought are pretty dark.
My eyes dart to a fire extinguisher held in place behind its glass casing. If I time it right, I can break the glass, grab the extinguisher, and spray it in my face before anyone can stop me. It’d be an epic way to go out.
I glance at my hands, where bruises decorate the knuckles. They’re from the fistfight I had with a chick a couple days ago over spaghetti. Touching one of the bruises, I wince. Yeah, I’d have to wait until they heal before I can set the plan in motion.
So instead, I use my hands to pull back the black-streaked hair. Within seconds, I transform it into a ponytail using the last hair tie on my wrist. I need to buy more ties after school.
The office door opens, and the school counselor pops his head out. “Good, you’re on time,” Mr. Timmons says with a smile. “Come on in.”
Like an obedient child, I follow him to his office. I plunk down in the orange plastic chair and cross my legs. One of my mismatched socks (the one with crayon scribbles in several colors) is halfway down from my knee. Meanwhile, the navy anchor sock stays where it should be. I pull up the crayon sock and adjust it at the same time Mr. Timmons sits down at his big desk.
“So, the last time we talked, you mentioned going to England after high school,” he begins. I swear he’s shaking with excitement, like a dog would whenever he hears the word ‘treat’. “In the last week I’ve been doing research on the colleges there. I found a few would be in your interest.”
Before I can blink, Mr. Timmons reaches over to the bottom drawer. He pulls out not one, or two, but a fuckload of brochures and folders and I think magazines on the desk. My eyes widen as I watch one of the brochures threaten to fall off the surface.
The counselor huffs. “And it took a lot of calls and searching websites and even contacting the offices to send over their information on the campuses, I’ll have you know.” Mr. Timmons picks up a flier. “This college has a great program for football. It can also get you a work visa after graduation so you can stay in England if you wish.”
He picks up a magazine for a different college next. “This one has a lot of tutors and help centers you can go to for any assignments you’re having difficulty with.
“And this,” he adds, picking up a brochure. “This one has fantastic cafes and little restaurants right outside the campus. There are also affordable apartments - I mean, flats - that you can check out.”
I’m too shocked to stop him from going over what colleges has what benefits for what I feel is about two hours. Once he finishes, he sits back in his chair, beaming over the pile at me. I have my mouth open and arms crossed. “What do you want to start with?”
How do I tell him what I actually said in the last visit? I wasn’t at all interested in attending college in England. What I said was, “I’d rather run off to England and make a living selling handmade shoes than put up with more bullshit from everyone I come across with!” And I said this right after we were discussing college options for me, despite my low grades.
Okay, I can sort of see how Mr. Timmons got the idea.
I’d like to say I exaggerated, but it’s more reality than anything else. For example, after the day’s over, I’m going home to my parents. The ones who gives standard after-school lectures over any choices I make or have made without their involvement. And after the lecture’s over, I’ll be either sent up to my room to do homework or be informed of whatever event Mom or Dad signed the three of us up for. This annoying habit of their tends to limit my free time even more.
The idea of running away just came out in the last counseling session. Only subconscious me thinks England’s an ideal place. Conscious me would rather go to New York at the farthest.
Now I’m letting the silence go longer than I like. “Um...”
Mr. Timmons seems to be analyzing my facial expressions. “Ah, I see what you’re thinking,” he says. “It’s a bigger step forward than going to a university a few states over. I understand it can be overwhelming for you.”
I’m feeling overwhelmed for a different reason. I make an attempt to pass it off. “Yeah, there’s more to it than I thought,” I respond quietly. “Maybe it’s best if--”
I’m interrupted with a hand up. “Don’t worry, I’m sure we can help you get everything you need. College requirements, scholarships, possibly a meeting with any representatives, and so on.”
“Who’s ‘we’?” Does the principal get involved with foreign colleges? It’d be the first I’ve heard of it.
With as much happiness as he can put in, “Well, me and your parents. I’m sure all three of us can pitch in.”
Aw hell no. Fuck that. There’s no way I’m getting Mom or Dad on board with anything about my future. And if it turns out my life depends on them, I’d definitely end it.
Leaning forward, I ask, “Is there any way we don’t bring my parents into this?”
With a curious look now, Mr. Timmons responds with, “Why? I’m sure they’ll want to be there for the next step of your life.”
And I’m sure they’ll want to make that step themselves so I won’t ‘ruin it’.
“Do you really want your parents out of it?” he adds when I don’t say anything.
I clasp my hands together. And then unclasp them. “You know, they have demanding jobs. Sometimes it gets pretty difficult to talk to them because they’re still in work mode.”
The counselor nods in understanding. “If you wish to do this on your own, that’s fine,” he tells me as he starts picking up some brochures. “I’m still here if you need some guidance. But for now,” he continues, handing me said brochures, “why don’t you look them over and we can talk about which college you’d like to go to the next time we talk.”
“Sounds good.” Mustering a smile, I stand from the chair and leave the office. I start to smile for real for avoiding an obstacle I don’t need to deal with in my life.
And the smile immediately evaporates when I remember the colleges. Damn it.